Beach Blanket Bongo
Written and directed by John McDonald
Who doesn’t have fond memories of the Frankie and Annette movies? Good looking youth escaped the parental thumb then went cruising for love and waves in skimpy underwear along with a rock and roll soundtrack. Up in the rafters tonight we find a tripping beat poet (McDonald) reciting near nonsensical verse and punctuating it with a tambourine. Down on the floor Frankie and Paul (Taylor and Collazo) wax their boards and plan their sexual conquests for the summer. Frankie is still deciding which way he swings, and Paul’s goes by “Dead Meat,” possibly the world’s worst nickname. On the distaff side we find sexually adventurous Connie (Masterson) and her underage friend Annette (Hanson). Connie sleeps her way through the year book while Annette seems OK with virginity. But by scene two, the pair are on the hunt and chasing the boys up and down the beach. If there’s a mentor here it’s the elderly (he must be 30 something) burn out Joey (David Martin). His mantra is “Don’t bogart that joint” and his sex doll is the spaced-out pill popping Juicy Fruit (Julie Gottfried). Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, and then Joey organizes an orgy and we find out it’s all a fever dream.
The action was brisk and entertaining, even if stage fighting on the concrete floor of Dangerous looks, well, dangerous. I thought Annette’s switch from prude to predator seemed quick and unmotivated, and the back end of the play resolved with more “where are they now” than needed. On the positive side, Joey projected an air of authority and offered what sound advice there was in this show while Frankie seemed to be genuinely confused about his sex. McDonald’s beat poet hijacked material from the best and sounded like just about every open mike night I’ve seen. The kids looked great in their swimwear and the romances made sense, and there was fun music interspersed with the action. The “Cock Song” was a crowd favorite. Tonight’s show is rough around the edges but has a heart, and I give it points for not beating the Christmas theme to death.